New Titanosaur Remains Found In Argentina, Could Be The Largest Animal Ever Walked On Earth

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It is believed that the largest creature that ever existed is the blue whale. The largest representatives of this species grow up to 33.6 m in length. The biggest terrestrial creatures were dinosaurs, and the largest of them was the titanosaurs. It is a genus of herbivorous sauropod dinosaurs from the clade Lithostrotia that lived in the Upper Cretaceous in the places that are now Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America.

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The dinosaur, whose fossils were found in Argentina, may have been the largest animal ever to walk on the Earth.

Argentinosaurus
Reconstructed Argentinosaurus measuring about 40 metres, at Museo Municipal Carmen Funes, Plaza Huincul, Neuquén, Argentina. Image credit:Britannica

The remains of a giant dinosaur that lived more than 200 million years ago were discovered by Argentine paleontologists. The fossil remains of a giant sauropod (lizard-footed dinosaur) were found in a muddy floodplain in Neuquén province, 1,100 km west of the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires.

The study was published in the journal Cretaceous Research.

In 2012, local paleontologists discovered the remains, including 24 caudal vertebrae and some adjacent pelvic bones. The new study is an anatomical analysis of fossils by a group of paleontologists from Argentina and Spain.

dinosaurs
A giant dinosaur that lived more than 200 million years ago was discovered in Argentina

The prehistoric creature, which was named Ingenia Prima, was three times larger than its congeners that lived on the planet in the Triassic period (251.9 – 201.3 million years ago).

“As soon as we found it, we realized it was something different. We found a shape, the first giant one among all the dinosaurs. That’s the surprise,” said Cecilia Apaldetti, a government and San Juan University researcher. Having studied the fragments of the skeleton – the vertebrae, part of the scapula, the bones of the front and hind limbs, the scientists came to the conclusion that “a growth strategy that was unknown until now and indicates that gigantism originated much earlier than was thought.”

According to paleontologists, the length of the dinosaur reached 8-10 m, and it weighed 7-10 tons. The discovery of Argentine scientists indicates that the first giant lizards appeared about 25-30 million years earlier than expected.

The finding of Argentine paleontologists makes scientists assume that the appearance of giant reptiles occurred about 205 million years ago, although it was previously believed that they first appeared in the Jurassic period, that is, about 180 million years ago.

Now the ranking of the world’s largest dinosaurs is headed by the Argentinosaurus, which reached a length of 30-40 m and weighed up to 100 tons. But the group includes titanosaurs, which were distinguished by an extremely long neck and a small head. The same group included a dinosaur, partial remains of which were discovered several years ago in the valley of the Neuquén River.

titanosaur
Remains of the largest titanosaur excavated in Neuquén province, Argentina

Excavation of such dinosaurs began in 2015 and continues to this day, while scientists presented a preliminary report on this work. They say the as-yet-undisclosed species of dinosaurs could become the new leader in the ranking of the largest dinosaurs in history.

The found fragments are on average 10% larger than Patagotitan, another contender for the title of the largest dinosaur from the group of titanosaurs. It reached a length of almost 40 m and weighed about 70 tons. But so far, no femurs or humerus bones have been found that would allow scientists to say an accurate weight or height of the dinosaur.

As for now, scientists have over half of the tail and many pelvic bones. Obviously, a lot remains in the rock, so it will take several more years to excavate. Nevertheless, they expect the remains to be nearly complete.

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